NARC is originally a 1988 arcade game designed by Eugene Jarvis for Williams Electronics and programmed by George Petro, also ported to various 8-bits comuters & consoles. The 2005 home console update of the 1988 arcade hit of the same title was developed by VIS Entertainment and published by Midway Games for the Xbox, PC and PS2. A planned Nintendo GameCube version was later canceled. Although the update was slated to be a straight remake of the story from the arcade game, the version that was eventually released featured a totally new story. Several well-known stars are involved with the voice acting in NARC, including Michael Madsen, Bill Bellamy, and Ron Perlman. The game's soundtrack features artists such as Curtis Mayfield, Cypress Hill, Grandmaster Flash, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and indie artists such as Point Game and Camden. The update casts the player as narcotics officer Jack Forzenski and DEA agent Marcus Hill, former partners reunited who are instructed to investigate a new drug on the streets called Liquid Soul.

One of the most controversial aspects of the game is that after arresting dealers and confiscating their stock, the player can either take the confiscated items to the evidence room, or keep them for future use. This confers benefits such as improved weapons accuracy. Dealing drugs for financial benefit is also possible. The integration of drug use by the protagonist is in complete contrast to the anti-drug message of the original arcade game. The game's source code (engine) dates back to the then three-year-old State of Emergency.

A March 21, 2005 press release announced the game's shipment to retailers and emphasized that NARC was designed for an "older audience". Indeed, the game was given an M rating. According to Chris Morris, "Its timing, though, couldn't be worse – and could have long-term ramifications on the industry". Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich said, "These kinds of games teach kids to do the very things that in real life, we put people in jail for. Just as we don't allow kids to buy pornography or alcohol or tobacco, we shouldn't allow them to buy these games." NARC was banned from Australia before it was released.